November 28, 2009

The Boards of Regents for Washington State University and the University of Washington met in a joint meeting on Saturday, November 28, 2009, beginning at 11:30 a.m. in room 691 of the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Sciences and Engineering, on the University of Washington Campus in Seattle, Washington.

Present from Washington State University: Regents Michael C. Worthy (Chair), Theodor Baseler, Scott E. Carson, Harold A. Cochran, Francois X. Forgette, Connie M. Niva, Rafael Stone, and Kasey Webster; Elson S. Floyd, President; Warwick Bayly, Provost and Executive Vice President; John Fraire, Vice President for Enrollment Management; Chio Flores, Director of Financial Aid and Scholarships; Mr. Miguel Macias, a 2009 graduate of WSU; and Christine Hoyt, Executive Assistant to the President and Board of Regents. 

Present from University of Washington:  Regents Herb Simon (Chair), Stanley H. Barer, Craig W. Cole, William H. Gates, Ben Golden, Joanne R. Harrell, Sally Jewell, and Fred Kiga; Mark A. Emmert, President; Eric S. Godfrey, Vice President for Student Life; Ms. Kay Lewis, Assistant Vice President and Director of Financial Aid and Scholarships; and Janel Brown, current UW student; and Joan Goldblatt, Secretary of the Board.

Special guest:  Governor Christine Gregoire.

Opening Comments and Introductions. Regent Simon opened the meeting with introductions of the Regents. He also introduced Mr. Edward Lazowska, the Bill & Melinda Gates Chair of Computer Science & Engineering, who provided a brief presentation about meeting location — the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Sciences and Engineering. Following Mr. Lazowska’s presentation, Presidents Emmert and Floyd provided opening remarks. 

President Emmert spoke about the budget situation faced by the state of Washington and higher education, in particular. He indicated that no matter how bad the situation, it is important not to forget how strong each of the two universities are and how high their performance is in the state and the nation. He indicated that that the state and nation need the two universities to do their jobs as well as possible, that we need to educate our citizenry like never before, and that we must be creative in the production of science, technology, scholarship, and art. He said that all this must be done as efficiently and effectively as we know how, because resources are smaller than they have ever been before. He noted that while the two institutions have great fun competing on the ball field, everybody understands that the success and collaboration of these two institutions is of vital importance to everything we all care about.

President Floyd expressed his appreciation for the participation by our students who were present to discuss the importance of financial aid and access to education. He said it is critical that we keep higher education in the state affordable, without compromising the quality of what must and should occur in our classrooms and research laboratories. Additionally, he

discussed the budget situation and the challenges faced by both institutions. He stressed the importance of the principles of excellence, quality, and accountability, and within that framework, he added innovation. He stated that it is going to take very innovative institutions to forge through the changes that we are engaged in right now. He highlighted that it is incumbent upon both boards to ensure that we maintain the excellence and quality that both research institutions are known for in the state, and he commended the Regents for their leadership. He noted that he has had the privilege of working not only at Washington State University, but also at the Higher Education Coordinating Board, and stated that both experiences taught him about the unique aspects associated with the state of Washington. He said it is about creativity and innovation, with the two major institutions serving as significant economic drivers. He said that if we want to fuel this economy, it will take the ingenuity of everyone in the room and our colleagues throughout our respective institutions to achieve exactly that. 

WSU Regent Mike Worthy provided observations about the commonalities of the two universities and emphasized that it is important to focus on those, rather than our differences. He stated that in thinking about the budget challenges and lack of resources, it will be important to remember the responsibilities the Regents have to steward the gigantic investments made over the past 100 years. He noted that tax payers have been generous over the years, but that the institutions are also built on the commitments by Cougars and Huskies alike. He stated that given the stress of insufficient resources to execute our visions as we see them in the short term, it is incumbent upon the Regents to look at being the best stewards of the investments that have already been made by the citizens and friends of the two universities. He said that the Regents of both institutions are 100 percent committed to doing the right thing for both Washington State University and the University of Washington and that both boards must focus their energies to continue to move the institutions forward.

Governor Gregoire put the budget situation into context and explained that only 30 percent of the budget will be available for a $2.5 billion shortfall. She noted that in order to be eligible for federal stimulus dollars, we must commit to maintaining our efforts in certain categories of funding to 2008 levels, including funding for higher education. She stated that the numbers are staggering and that the challenges are unbelievable, particularly in trying to produce a budget with no new revenue. She said that the bigger funded programs must be on the table for cuts and that, unfortunately, includes financial aid for students, as it is one of the biggest funded programs in the state. 

UW Regent Herb Simon introduced the scheduled program for the day. He said that we do many great things when it comes to financial aid, particularly with the “Husky Promise” and the “Cougar Commitment,” and that both institutions share the core values of insuring access and creating opportunities for the citizens of this state. He said that our financial aid programs are tangible examples of our work of insuring access. He pointed out that we are on the verge of extraordinary changes in demographics in this state and nationally, as well. He said these changes will increase the numbers of students seeking to enroll on our campuses, and that this includes low income students, students of color, and students who are the first in their families to attend college. He said these changes underscore the importance of financial aid programs now and into the future. He said that both universities are committed to being prepared for that future. 

Panel Presentation. Regent Simon introduced Ms. Kay Lewis, Assistant Vice President and Director of Financial Aid and Scholarships at the University of Washington, who introduced Ms. Chio Flores, Director of Financial Aid and Scholarships at Washington State University. She also introduced Mr. Miguel Macias, a 2009 graduate of WSU, and Ms. Janel Brown, a current UW student. 

Ms. Lewis and Ms. Flores provided an overview of financial aid, including statistical information about the numbers of undergraduate students on aid and the the types of financial aid programs offered. They also discussed the “Cougar Commitment” and the “Husky Promise,” programs at the two universities that guarantee that eligible students will not pay any tuition for four years of enrollment. They explained that the tuition and standard fees are covered by federal, state, and institutional support.  Ms. Lewis and Ms. Flores further explained that at WSU, 14 percent of resident undergraduates quality for the Cougar Commitment and that 48 percent of those students are first generation college enrollees. At the University of Washington, 25 percent of resident undergraduates qualify for the Husky Promise and 48 percent of those students are first generation college enrollees. Additionally, Mr. Macias and Ms. Brown shared their stories about their families and educational backgrounds and experiences. They shared how vitally important financial aid was to each of them and emphasized throughout their respective presentations that without financial aid, neither of them would have been able to attend college. Lastly, Vice Presidents Fraire and Godfrey discussed the operations of their programs, the coordination of recruitment efforts within their respective institutions, how scholarships are administered, their work with parents, and the coordination of admissions and financial aid. 

Discussion. Following the presentations, there was a discussion with the Regents and the Governor. Topics included work study and employment programs at both institutions, access to education, outreach to students, the marketing of financial aid, costs associated with education, the importance of the state need grant (the largest single source of financial aid for both universities), and the demand for resources and strategies concerning the best way to leverage and distribute financial aid.  

There was also a discussion regarding the importance for both Boards to have tuition setting authority at their respective institutions. President Floyd stressed that the individual boards are closer to the student population than legislators who are too far removed from our institutional priorities and what we must do to preserve the product at our universities. 

Governor Gregoire stressed that it will be important to make connections with legislators, as well as organize our alumni base. She said the bottom line is that both institutions must find champions for higher education. She said we cannot compromise this important economic engine of our state—our students—and that investment in education will help to cut the cycle of poverty to give our kids and the state a shot. She also pointed out that higher education institutions in the state will need to fight for the state need grant, because significant cuts to this program mean that the Cougar Commitment and the Husky Promise will not survive. Governor Gregoire expressed her thanks to the students, as well as the Regents for their willingness to serve their institutions and the state of Washington. Both Presidents and Boards thanked Governor Gregoire for her leadership and for her continued focus on major issues impacting our state, particularly with what has been happening in higher education.

Adjournment. The meeting was adjourned at 1:30 p.m.

Approved by the WSU Board of Regents at its meeting held January 29, 2010, Firstenburg Student Commons, 101-103, Vancouver, Washington